Classrooms vs Distance Learning. Which suits Visual Learners?

Classrooms vs Distance Learning. Which suits Visual Learners?

by Lesley Graham

There is a little story behind this blog. Early in my teaching career I was going to give a talk on distance education and had only few days' notice.

I looked through my email address book and sent out a few requests to students asking for a short feedback, hoping that in a couple of days' time I would have enough information to put something together. An hour later I switched on the email, and there were quite a few replies. This was one of them...

Emily from Northern New South Wales wrote:


I am very passionate about the availability of distance education!

Firstly, I am a visual learner, I respond better to information that is typed out that I can "see" than that which is delivered by a teacher aurally. This visual learning style may be attributed also to the fact I have Attention Deficit Disorder (this may be a bit personal but I believe it is relevant, as people with learning difficulties do not always respond to the traditional classroom/tutorial learning situation - I certainly didn't).


Distance learning helped me with this in the following areas:

a.) Reading through information at my own pace gives me more time to process information - my information processing speed is probably a lot slower than most people.

b.) If I feel fatigued (as people with ADD quite often do) I do not have to waste my time sitting through a lesson and feeling cut off from what is being said - I can stop what I am doing and come back later.

c.) Confidence in my intellectual ability. Education was always a priority with me and distance education gave me more time to actually learn rather than sitting in a classroom feeling dumb...


An interesting point to add to this story is I had no idea at all that Emily had difficulties learning in the conventional manner, therefore I didn’t treat her any differently than the other students.

‘Visual learners’ tend to:

  • Remember what they see rather than what they hear
  • Remember diagrams and pictures
  • Prefer to read and write rather than listen
  • Have trouble remembering verbal instructions
  • Need an overall view and purpose before beginning a project
  • Like art more than music
  • Sometimes tune out when trying to pay attention

(On the other hand, ‘auditory learners’ tend to prefer classroom listening and discussion).

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